Video for Learning: 10 Reasons Why I Believe iMovie is still the Best
by Nick Acton
1) It's free
Let’s start with the simple fact that iMovie is completely free of charge. Of course, you need to own an Apple device to access it, but if you do, you can download the app without a single penny coming out of your account. There aren't any ‘premium features’ or ‘lite versions’. iMovie comes in full with everything it has to offer available to you at no cost. Apple are so dedicated to furthering creative endeavours that they have made it supremely easy and satisfyingly free for anyone to access any of their ‘homemade’ apps.
It’s free but does that mean it’s cheap, featureless and unusable? No. Absolutely not. In fact, I maintain that anyone can use this app. From five-year-olds to far too old-year-olds, there is a simplicity about the app that can provide access for all. In usual Apple fashion, there isn’t any clutter on your screen when you open up the app. All of the features associated with professional editing software are there, but they are cleverly arranged into un-intimidating groups that are logically dispersed on the app’s interface. For example, rather than having all of the splicing options lined up on the screen all of the time, a user needs to double tap on a clip of footage to access them. Straight away, this acts as an ‘uncluttered’.
Following on from my last point, the ease of use means that it is the perfect tool when it comes to differentiation. Younger or less experienced pupils can create a movie out of images or video footage, engaging with easy step-by-step processes. Dig a bit further into the app and more confident children can begin to add titles or music. Dig even further, and app savvy kids can add effects, filters and edit clips to fit exact music cues. Use a shovel on the app, and class members can create voice-overs; use green screen technology; combine the footage with content from other apps; and so on and so on. The opportunity for differentiation doesn’t just apply for one class. It can apply to an entire school. In other words, children can continue to find new ways of utilising the app across their entire school career. They can come back to it time and time again and expand on their creativity each time. The same goes for teachers using the app. I’m still finding new ways of using it after being a firm iMovie fan for well over ten years.
As I have touched on before, iMovie has the ability to link with other apps. This means that the glass ceiling of the app is easily broken. Your creativity can spill over into other apps or you can pour your creative juices right back into the iMovie from other apps. It’s up to you. For example, Garageband links to iMovie via the share button. This enables you to create music for your movie on a powerful music production tool that is easily spliced in at the tap of a few buttons. Anything in your camera roll can be accessed by iMovie. Therefore, an image or movie that has been enhanced by any other app, can be brought into the fold. Even when you export your finished product, there are useful links to be explored. You can upload your movie to youtube straight from the app. You can upload your movie to a shared storage app like ‘Google Drive’ or ‘Office 365’. These links increase the creative opportunities available to any filmmaker but they also increase the productivity of the app.
Because microphones, cameras and speakers are built into the iPad, it's easy to make something happen off the cuff on iMovie. Using the camera option means that you can film and edit footage all from within the app. With the aforementioned links available to you, iMovie users can easily create something and upload it to Youtube (for example) in less than an hour. This is an important factor, not just because this timeframe sits comfortably within a normal school lesson, but because children expect instantaneous functionality now. Plus, you can capture something in the moment. So much of school life is fleeting and it can be hard for some children to capture their creative flourishes. iMovie counters that fact perfectly.
6) Cross-curricular Connotations
Don't be fooled into believing that iMovie can only be used as an ICT tool. It can do so much more. Because of its ease of use and instantaneous nature, teachers can plan the app into all sorts of lessons without having to worry about the technology aspect taking over the main learning objective. Far from it, the app can help to enhance a learning objective by offering a new way of approaching a lesson. Children can capture the steps of a scientific experiment on film. They can use the app to group images into a nice storyline order. They can capture their own progress in physical education lessons. It really can be used as a secondary element within a lesson, providing a platform that can move the learning on without interrupting it or muddling the objective.
Let's get down to the nitty-gritty of the features found within the app for my last next few points. The effects available on iMovie can massively increase the production values of your creations. They can also do a lot to increase the ‘cross-curricular connotations’ of the app. For example, filters like ‘Black and White’ or ‘70’s style Sepia Tones’ can instantly make the footage look older. Perfect for enhancing History Lessons. The ‘Slow Motion’ tool can be used to make your video look more dramatic but it can also serve as a sports analysis feature. Watch how you throw a ball or attempt a long jump in slow motion to better understand what you’re doing right and/or wrong. Sound Effects can be used to increase the tension of a scene or enhance a science video by emphasising the ‘bubbling of boiling liquids’ or the ‘sizzling of sparks’. If the effects do nothing more than making a movie more interesting to watch, then they have done their job and increased the creative output of a child tenfold. However, like most of the elements I have discussed, there is so much more to be gained from this feature.
8) Voice Over
Another great feature within the app is the 'Voice Over' button. This microphone button enables you to add more to your movie that isn’t ‘in camera’. Therefore, it offers a more reflective or focused opportunity for creativity. Why not read some dramatic wartime poetry into the voice-over microphone whilst black and white imagery plays underneath it? Why not read out some research facts about lava whilst sound effects of eruptions go off and photos of active volcanoes whizz by? The voice-over button also gives a child a second option when it comes to presenting their ideas. Many children dread the idea of standing and talking in front of their classmates. This simple tool enables a less confident child to record and re-record their ideas on their own before showing it to everyone. You never know, seeing their peers react to their voice over, might even give them the confidence to do a bit of public speaking in the future.
It might seem strange that I have only just got round to the apps main functionality on my penultimate point. However, the reasoning for this is simple. I don’t want anyone to think that this is a one-trick pony app. It’s more than just an editing tool. However, in my opinion, it is still one of the best editing tools out there. On top of all the effects and so on, you can, of course, split, cut down, discard, reorder, recover and re-do footage to your heart’s content. Simply dragging the end of a clip will trim it down easily. More complex edits can be achieved by using pinch gestures to zoom right in on the footage in order to find the exact moment you wish to cut. A whole host of transitions are available as well! Engaging in editing can really help children to understand drafting and redrafting stories. It can also help them to understand story pacing and its effect on the viewer/reader. Yes, the editing functionality on the app is a bit more fiddly and time-consuming than some of the other features. But I would argue that the benefits associated with mastering the editing tools far outweigh the effort it might take to get there.
10 ) Accessibility
Accessibility has underpinned every point that I have made on this list. You can think about iMovie’s accessibility in a number of different ways. Anyone can access the app as it’s free. It’s easy to use and so children can access powerful editing tools to enhance their learning. The voice-over tool offers another way of accessing the app for children with physical disabilities that might make some of the other features impossible for them to use. Children can access different ways of approaching a Learning Objective through the use of the app. However, I would like to champion the fact that it gives teachers a new way of accessing their classes potential. It’s a free cross-curricular resource that is easy to use and can offer differentiated outcomes with high production values in an instantaneous way.
iMovie has always adapted and evolved over the years. The beauty of a well-maintained app is that it can be updated and made better as time goes by. When iMovie is updated, it is always for the best. The more Apple tinker with it, the more it becomes a creative companion. Your past knowledge of the app enables you to easily carry on using it, but the changes make subtle differences that undoubtedly improve your experience. That is why I believe that it is still the best, and will continue to be leagues ahead of the competition. It has slowly but surely chipped away at the walls that could have contained creativity. In the past, I may have opened iMovie and saw editing tools and exciting effects. Now when I open the app, I see nothing but possibilities.
Nick Acton is an Apple Curriculum Specialist at JTRS as well as being a part-time Computing and Music teacher. Through the creation of bespoke training, Nick specialises in empowering educators so they can embed Apple technologies into their day-to-day classroom practice.